Small sprout coming out of dark soil

Four Types Of Soil

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times… Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

Mark 4: 3-9, 13-20.

A decision we each must make

This parable explains the different responses which people have toward Jesus and his radical message. Four different responses are given, along with four different causes and four distinct results. The sowing of the seed symbolizes the spreading of the gospel, while the seed being sown is the word of God. It seems that many times when we as more seasoned Christians contemplate this parable, we’re quick to retort, “I don’t have hardened soil. There are no rocks in my heart. I’ve removed all the weeds from my life.” But consider with me that maybe God isn’t wanting us to read this parable merely through a lens of self-examination, but more as a perspective of what’s happening in the lives of those we are called to love, serve, and minister to.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples,
‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.'”

Matthew 9:37

Hardened Path

The first soil — those along the hardened path — are those whose hearts have never responded positively to the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of Jesus makes no impression on them whatsoever. Satan immediately snatches the message from their hearts, so there is no response, no new birth, no fruit, no hope. This first person is often someone whose life has been marked with shame, rejection, and abandonment. Their heart has become hardened, and they find it very difficult to trust anyone, including God. Deep down, they know something needs to change. But they have become so bitter, so resentful, and so wounded, they often find it easier to perpetuate a life of self-destruction than to accept the invitation to a new life in Christ. Rocky Soil

Rocky Soil

The second soil — the rocky soil — represents those who positively and joyfully respond to our Lord’s teaching, but with an inadequate grasp of its implications. These folks respond enthusiastically to the word because they think that it is a gospel which promises blessing, happiness, and prosperity in this world. The quickness of the response is an indication of their lack of depth, or their lack of perception as to what the teachings of Jesus really mean. This is not due to our Lord’s misrepresentation of the gospel. It is the result of selective hearing, of hearing only the good and pleasant things, rather than hearing of the costs involved in discipleship, of which our Lord often spoke. A simple reading of the Sermon on the Mount will show how Jesus carefully represented the blessings and the costs of following Him.

Thorny Soil

The third soil — the thorny soil — represents those who have a more complete grasp of the cost of discipleship, but who have never rid themselves of the “cares of this world.” Their concerns for worldly trappings — such as wealth, knowledge, power, and beauty — outgrow their seeking first the kingdom of God, and thus their priorities become reversed. They want God to bless their self-motivated plans and priorities, with little thought given to yielding their lives to His plan and what He might be doing in the world around them. It is not that the people represented by this thorny soil do not understand the true costs of following Jesus. They are just not willing to pay the price. It is not a lack of knowledge which causes them to err, but lack of commitment and dedication. We encounter this, as we serve in Christian recovery and counseling, in the individual who is quick to praise the Lord, able to quote their share of key scriptures, appears very ‘Christian’ on the outside, but is hollow and unfulfilled on the inside.

Small sprout coming out of dark soil

Good Soil

The fourth soil — the good soil — represents those whose hearts are prepared for the gospel, and whose lives are uncluttered with competing interests and values. In this fourth soil, the word not only brings forth life, but the plant comes to maturity and it bears fruit. This is the goal of Christian discipleship.


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